July 21, 2010


Former Agriculture Department Official Denies Racism, Is Backed By Fuller Video (Jake Tapper, July 20, 2010, Political Punch)

Left out of the story’s race throughout the media world, at least in its initial few laps, were the facts that the incident in question took place in 1986 when she worked for a non-profit, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund.

Sherrod’s larger argument was that her involvement with the white farmers in question -- Roger and Eloise Spooner from Iron City, Ga. -- made her realize a larger lesson. As she said in a different part of the video splice, “it was revealed to me that it’s about the poor versus those who have.”

Or, as she told ABC News Tuesday afternoon, she tells the story to share with people “how I grew. What happened to me while I worked for that farmer -- it helped me to see that it’s not about race, you know, we need to move beyond that.”

But back then, why would she look at white farmers differently than she did at black farmers?

“Because I always – up to that point – I felt they had all the advantages,” Sherrod said. “Until I started working with that farmer, I didn’t think white farmers were treated like black farmers were treated by the agency….There are a few of them who get treated like black farmers.”

For decades, black farmers have said the Agriculture Department unfairly denied them loans or took much longer to process their loans. A class-action lawsuit against the Department followed. Earlier this year, the Obama administration agreed to a $1.25 billion settlement.

Sherrod’s story, she says, was to argue that race shouldn’t matter. [...]

“It never, never crossed my mind,” Roger Spooner told ABC News. “Never crossed my mind. Me and the wife, we never, we never, we never saw that at all. Absolutely. It’s unbelievable.”

Spooner told ABC News today that without Sherrod he would have lost the farm.

”If we had not found her, me and my wife -- we went checking here and yonder and everywhere -- if it hadn’t been for her, we’d of lost. It was just a matter of a few months and we would have lost it.”

On Tuesday evening, the NAACP posted a more complete video of Sherrod's remarks, and the longer version supports her story. The fuller video shows her telling the story about how the white lawyer to whom she introduced Spooner did little to help him, with Spooner calling her to tell her "the lawyer wasn't doing anything."

So Sherrod helped him. "Working with him made me see that it's really about those who have versus those who don't," she said. "You know, and that they could be black, they could be white, they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people, those who don't have access the way others have." "

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 21, 2010 5:51 AM
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